Walk in Wisdom – Gleanings from the Scripture
Acts 4.29 “And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness.”
Boldness. We most often consider the word and the topic when it comes to evangelism. Rightly so. Even our text today is addressing it in that context. Peter and John had been involved the previous day in the healing of the lame beggar on the steps of the Temple. Now, under arrest, they are faced with giving some answers to the Council. It is in this exchange that 3.13 notes: “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.”
Note first then that this boldness of theirs linked them directly with Jesus. Jesus Himself was a bold man. Bold, not brash, belligerent or harsh – bold. Quite simply fearless. Jesus lived without fear of any man or circumstance. He feared only the Father. That godly fear equipped Him to stand resolutely irrespective of that He faced. His was not the boldness of human bravado or hubris. His was the bold calmness that comes from absolute confidence. When there is no need for self-protection or self-defense. It did not matter to Him if others disrespected or disregarded Him – at least not in the personal sense. In an age when disrespecting someone is virtually the worst offense we can think of (at least in this culture) Jesus seemed above it all.
The Disciples here, like Jesus, knew both WHO they were, and WHOSE they were. So it is shabby treatment, disrespect and opposition were not the things that moved them. All without bitterness or hardness. All this, still broken over the condition of their enemies. Still reaching out to them and preaching to their detractors. Never a hint of the “I’ll show you” attitude that is prevalent in us when we are crossed or feel powerless. No striking back. They didn’t need personal power – they served Power, personified.
Boldness can be easily lost. In fact, it most often flees us under four conditions: a. When yielding to intimidation; b. When giving way to a response of bitter detachment; c. When reeling from the sting of rejection or misunderstanding; d. Or in the loss of confidence due to personal errors, failures, or unexpected opposition. When we believe others do not share any love or compassion toward us.
But boldness must be the product of a right Spirit. The commandment “you shall not kill” is often misunderstood because people fail to take into account more than one type of killing. Hence, some will even use God’s commandment to deny the death penalty, when the very same law DEMANDS the death of those who defy it. Murder and just execution are both killing, but light years apart. Boldness and brashness are similarly so. So it is when in Luke 9, Jesus (and the Disciples with Him) are disrespected by the Samaritans and not given the impromptu lodging they desired, James and John boldly want to call down fire from heaven to consume them. But Jesus rebuked them. Some manuscripts note Jesus saying “you do not know what spirit you are of.” What was the problem? They were indignant, but Jesus had not come to destroy people’s lives, but to save them.
So we note secondly that even after Pentecost and other confrontations, Peter prays in our text for continued boldness. He did not want to fall back under those old ways. To be bombastic or crushing when calm in the face of the storm would reveal Christ more.
The Church needs boldness in our day. Not to out argue or shout down our detractors. To remain calm, steadfast and loving when fear would drive us simply to frustration and bombast.
Note thirdly then, in verse 31, that God was pleased to answer that prayer, and they “continued to speak the word of God with boldness.” The Word is what they spoke with boldness. Not their opinions, pronouncement, judgments or retorts – God’s Word, God’s message. In other words, they continued to gospelize their detractors.
So, how are you doing with your boldness?